Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drowsy Drosophila shed light on sleep and hunger

Date:
October 3, 2013
Source:
Brandeis University
Summary:
Sleep, hunger and metabolism are closely related, but scientists are still struggling to understand how they interact. Now, researchers have discovered a key function in a molecule in fruit flies that may provide insight into the complicated relationship between sleep and food.

This is an image of Drosophila (fruit flies).
Credit: Mike Lovett

Why does hunger keep us awake and a full belly make us tired? Why do people with sleep disorders such as insomnia often binge eat late at night? What can sleep patterns tell us about obesity?

Sleep, hunger and metabolism are closely related, but scientists are still struggling to understand how they interact. Now, Brandeis University researchers have discovered a function in a molecule in fruit flies that may provide insight into the complicated relationship between sleep and food.

In the October issue of the journal Neuron, Brandeis scientists report that sNPF, a neuropeptide long known to regulate food intake and metabolism, is also an important component in regulating and promoting sleep. When researchers activated sNPF in fruit flies, the insects fell asleep almost immediately, awaking only long enough to eat before nodding off again. The flies were so sleepy that once they found a food source, they slept right on top of it for days -- like falling asleep on a giant hamburger bun and waking up long enough to take a few nibbles before falling back to sleep.

When researchers returned sNPF functions to normal, the flies resumed their normal level of activity, leaving behind their couch potato ways.

The researchers, led by professor of biology Leslie Griffith, concluded that sNPF has an important regulatory function in sleep in addition to its previously known function coordinating behaviors such as eating and metabolism.

"This paper provides a nice bridge between feeding behavior and sleep behavior with just a single molecule," says Nathan Donelson, a post doctoral fellow in Griffith's lab and one of the study's lead authors.

Neurons use neuropeptides to communicate a range of brain functions including learning, metabolism, memory and social behaviors. In humans, Neuropeptide Y functions similarly to sNPF and has been studied as a possible drug target for obesity treatment.

But scientists don't fully understand how regulating neuropeptide function at specific times and in specific cells affects sleeping and eating. By studying sNPF in fruit flies, scientists can learn which cells, neurotransmitters and genes are involved in eating and sleeping; what processes turn on and inhibit the behaviors, and how sleep cells are relevant to hunger drive.

"Our paper makes a significant step into tying all these things together," says Donelson, "and that is extremely important down the road to our understanding of human health."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brandeis University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yuhua Shang, NathanC. Donelson, ChristopherG. Vecsey, Fang Guo, Michael Rosbash, LeslieC. Griffith. Short Neuropeptide F Is a Sleep-Promoting Inhibitory Modulator. Neuron, 2013; 80 (1): 171 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.07.029

Cite This Page:

Brandeis University. "Drowsy Drosophila shed light on sleep and hunger." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003121319.htm>.
Brandeis University. (2013, October 3). Drowsy Drosophila shed light on sleep and hunger. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003121319.htm
Brandeis University. "Drowsy Drosophila shed light on sleep and hunger." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003121319.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins